Studying the history of yoga this week got me thinking about the modern age that we live in.
Typically speaking, our minds are restless, distracted and infatuated with ‘stuff’. We want stuff – houses, cars, clothes, status, money, power… We’re constantly thinking, craving, and obsessing over our ‘stuff’ and how to get this ‘stuff’.
That is so true, I was nodding in agreement and thinking “yeah, some people are so obsessed with their ‘stuff'”as I read… and then it hit me.
So… that is me?
Honestly though, I don’t really know what it really means. What exactly is a restless mind, a distracted mind, and an infatuated mind?
I found the answer in the literature – the Yoga Sutras and Sankhya. The three qualities of the mind (gunas) are connected to the five states of mind (chittas): suspended, single-pointed, distracted, restless and infatuated. A suspended and single-pointed mind is associated with the clarity of ‘sattva’, a restless mind is associated with the energy of ‘rajas’, and the infatuated mind is associated with the heaviness and inactivity of ‘tamas’. The distracted mind is associated with all three qualities, depending on the motivation.
I imagine that it’s a little bit like opening a web browser in order to search for truth. The suspended mind has no need to open a web browser – it can grasp the truth without needing a ‘focus point’. The single-pointed mind opens the web browser, and has one tab open, and with that one tab it can grasp the truth without getting lost in other tabs. The distracted mind continues to open tabs, continuing to search for the truth. The restless mind switches between tabs constantly, not able to focus. The infatuated mind obsesses over tabs that it thinks is important, without seeking out anything else.
Having 16 tabs open in my browser right now (I can’t believe I am admitting that), is a little more than embarrassing. But does it have a deeper meaning? Is it reflective of my state of mind?
15 out of 16 tabs that I have open relate to the history of yoga and explanations of the five states of mind. Would I need these tabs full of information and explanation if I had a suspended mind? Maybe not (probably not) – I would have been more likely to be able to understand the concept of ‘chitta’ spontaneously, without all this ‘stuff’. Would I need these tabs if I had a single-pointed mind? Maybe not ( probably not!) – I would have been more likely to be able to cut through the ‘stuff’ in order to focus and grasp the truth.
Most of us are – distracted, restless, infatuated. It seems to be kind of like the ‘default’ setting for most of us, unfortunately. I’m not in a place to offer advice on how to get out of it, because I’m right there next to you, becoming aware that my mind is hectic and crazy most of the time, and wondering… Ok, so, now what?
Now what? Hey, I know!
When you’re coming to a realisation that kind of freaks you out… don’t panic…
[Image courtesy of pixtawan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]